Paul Krugman had a post today calling Obama the WYSIWYG President:
There’s a lot of dismay/rage on the left over Obama, a number of cries that he isn’t the man progressives thought they were voting for.
But that says more about the complainers than it does about Obama himself. If you actually paid attention to the substance of what he was saying during the primary, you realized that
(a) There wasn’t a lot of difference among the major Democratic contenders
(b) To the extent that there was a difference, Obama was the least progressive
Now it’s true that many progressives were ardent Obama supporters, with their ardency mixed in with a fair bit of demonization of Hillary Clinton. And maybe they were right — but not on policy grounds. (I still remember people angrily telling me that if Hillary got in, she’d fill her economics team with Rubinites).
So what you’re getting is what you should have seen.
This is just the introduction to a different argument, but it struck me as a pretty good demonstration of just how debased our political culture is. I mean, this situation has come about because the default assumption is now that politicians automatically mean something other than what they appear to be saying. We’ve gotten to the point where progressives consider it a rude shock that the President is doing more or less what he said he would do when he was running for office.
That’s really pretty depressing, when you think about it. People feel that their hopes have been dashed, because their hopes were based on the presumption that their candidate was insincere. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?
This probably connects to Kevin Guilfoile’s Infinite Summer post about sincerity. If you’d like a cheerier version of the same phenomenon, check out his footnote about Dave Eggers and Applebees. I have to go watch some more comically awful football, though.